Saturday, August 31, 2013

D. Gray-man

Another series I watched some time ago is D. Gray-man.  This is an anime series developed from a manga.  It’s also a long series.  Season one was 51 episodes and season two was 52.  This post is a synopsis of all 103 episodes.

The premise for this series is a world where a very powerful bad guy, the Millennium Earl, is working to destroy humanity.  He is aided in this endeavor by his top minions known as the Noah, and by akuma (demons) he creates.  The Earl’s akuma are machines with the ability to evolve, that are created from the souls of people who have died and are called back from death by their loved ones who have fallen into despair.   Arrayed against the Earl and his forces are the Black Order, a group of Exorcists.  The Order’s exorcist members are individuals who can use the power of a substance they call Innocence to destroy and defeat akuma.  The Order’s most powerful members are the Generals or Marshals, depending on your translation.

The story follows a 15-year old boy named Allen Walker.  Allen is “trained” (alternately brow-beaten, tortured and/or ignored) by one of the generals, Marian Cross, and sent to the Black Order.  He becomes an exorcist and is joined in his travels by other exorcists, including the three other main characters, Lenalee, Kanda and Lavi.   Unlike most of the other exorcists whose Innocence takes the form of a tool (katana, hammer) or apparel (boots), Allen’s Innocence is embedded in his left hand which becomes a huge claw which he uses to destroy akuma.  Allen also has the ability to see disguised akuma with his left eye, which contains some element of evil in it.  Allen’s left eye was a curse from his “father”, Mana, the man who raised him.  When Mana died, Allen (who was about 6 years old at the time) called him back from death which turned him into an akuma, and Allen then had to destroy him.

Most of the story is about the continuing battles between the forces of the Earl and the Black Order.  It also entails a lot of the individual exorcist’s battles with overcoming their own handicaps and growing stronger.   The Exorcists are sent out by the Black Order to find more Innocence, as well as to locate the generals, Cross in particular, and to battle the ever-present akuma.  As the story evolves, the Earl calls together the Noah, and both the Earl-tachi and the Black Order work to find the “Heart” of Innocence, which will allow whoever possesses it to win the overall battles.   

Throughout much of the story, the Earl and his Noah have the upper hand.  At one point in the story Allen is killed by a Noah named Tyki.  Allen’s Innocence saves his life but then he spends many episodes coming to an accommodation with his Innocence and re-learning to use it. He finally realizes that something about him makes him a balance point between good and evil, having elements of both sides in his make-up.  This realization allows him to fight on with his Innocence, at significantly increased strength, although some people in the Black Order struggle with his evil side.  Lenalee goes through a similar accommodation process with her Innocence, and at times both Allen and Lenalee are considered as the person who can hold the Heart of Innocence.

The Earl and his forces come very close to winning it all.  They gain the Heart, kill a boatload of the Exorcists and almost destroy all of current existence.  At the last second, Allen rebuilds all of existence, including his friend’s lives, by playing a piano and thwarting the Earl’s plans.  This is one of the more climatic moments of the series but even winning this particular battle does not give the exorcists much breathing room.  It’s quickly followed by the last battle of the series, a direct attack on the Black Order headquarters. 

D. Gray-man has a non-ending ending.  Allen-tachi survive the last battle at the Order, but nothing is really resolved.  They haven’t defeated the Earl or stopped his plans for humanity’s destruction and so still have on-going battles against the Earl’s forces to look forward to.  Plus these late battles and Allen’s abilities create more questions than the series answers.  Somehow Allen is the successor to a Noah position, the “Fourteenth” or the Musician.  So very obviously the series could have just kept going.  It wasn’t a very satisfying ‘ending’ to get to after 103 episodes.  

Still, the series is pretty, the music is good and the characters and character development is interesting to watch.  Overall it was definitely entertaining and interesting enough to keep me watching and enjoying it for 103 episodes, so I'd have to say that it's worth watching.  I just wish it had had a little more closure at the end. And I never did know where the series title comes from.  Maybe it's explained in the manga.

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